Allen, Ernie

Ernie Allen was born January 14, 1922 in Heaton Park, in Manchester, England.  His father served in the Royal Artillery during the Great War, and his mother worked in the cotton mills of Manchester.  Ernie went to school and did all the normal things a boy would do in 1930s Britain; when he completed school at 15 – knowing his father could not afford university – he went to work at Manchester’s Great Universal Stores (GUS), where he worked in the shoe department.  By then the shadows of war were approaching, and Ernie went into the Civil Defence, training air wardens and the like.  When the war came, Ernie chose the RAF, where he learned to fly in a Tiger Moth.  He also was involved in glider training, but the most important aspect for him was flying the fighter aircraft, the Spitfire and the Hurricane.  He was initially assigned to 277 Squadron, an air sea rescue squadron, flying the Spitfire in support of Walrus pick up operations.  Ernie did that for several years, and when his term was completed he went into a Typhoon squadron, as the RAF needed tactical pilots.  Along the way – while stationed outside Oxford – Ernie met Wynn, and the two of them married at the midpoint of the war.  After that he crossed the Channel; as a Typhoon pilot it was his job to support the advancing Allied armies.  Ernie’s bases on the continent followed those armies from France to Germany – and to victory.  He expected a deployment to the Pacific, but that possibility ended with the atomic bomb.  Ernie went home to his wife; he was demobilized, and turned his attention to being a civilian and a husband.  A few years after the war he made the decision to come to the United States, and eventually Canada, where he fell into new postwar rhythms.  Ernie Allen was interviewed by Scott Masters in August 2002, at his home in the Ottawa area.